For someone who has spent the last year and a half confined to a housette in pajamas with only a computer screen to talk to, this little jaunt can only be described as overwhelming, in every sense of the word. I’m still jetlagged but who could blame me? It took 18 hours to get here where I’m 5 hours behind France time. The bags under my eyes will have to be claimed as carry-ons when I head out to St. John’s tomorrow.
Anyway, bag lady or no, I hardly know where to begin to describe the events of late. I arrived in Halifax last Wednesday half starved to death, so we popped into one of my favourite restaurants (Jane’s) for a light supper and my long overdue daily dose of vin blanc. Just as we were settling the bill, a young waitress stood a few feet back from the table, cocked her head to the side, narrowed her eyes and said, “Did you write that book?” I said, “Well, I wrote a book.” “I knew it,” she said, “we were all over in the corner trying to decide if we should ask you.” Apparently they had seen the poster for the blook in the window of Bookmark and recognized me. Well, I never!
The next day I finally saw the blook for myself. I stopped and looked at the window display, hugged myself internally and went in and asked if I could see a copy. The man passed it to me and said, “This book is so gorgeous. It’s been stopping people in their tracks.” Oh my. So I told him it was mine and he positively beamed at me, welcomed and congratulated me. I thanked him for the window display and his support and then this beautiful bookseller paused, looked me straight in the eye and said, “No, really, it’s an honour.” Oh my, again.
Then I did the radio, so fun. Then I did the TV, a blur of lights and morning people with lots of energy. I have no idea what I said as I was barely awake, but I do know that I did not poop in my pants as predicted. Then I went off to my first signing at a small chain store in a local mall which lasted 40 minutes because for the first time in that store’s history we ran out of books. My friends, I was a sell-out. Okay it was only 20 books but still, the staff were beside themselves with joy and bewilderment.
I signed my first book for my friend Heather who told me how to do it so it’s clear that it’s a first edition. I met beautiful people including the sweetest lady alive, a Finder, who circled back after buying her book because she decided she would ask for a picture with me after all. “I’m such a dork,” she said. I laughed and snuggled in for the shot and she was so happy that she was teary. I mean it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Later that night, cocktails with Gordon and Trina and company, owners of Uncommon Grounds (FMIF launch venue) and dinner with Jill, resplendent in her platform stilettos (she knows of my phobia and yet persists) and chandelier earrings. Her husband Todd, also a dear friend, was in fine form. Comme d’habitude, Jill and I laughed until mascara ran freely and urine retention bordered on precarious. Poor woman, I nearly talked the ears right off her, 18 months in linguistic prison will do that to you.
Next came the launch. Oh where to start? Incroyable. I finally met my lovely, wonderful, supportive, down to earth publisher who is now my friend. Jill introduced me with a speech too beautiful to even describe and then the blook sold out, yet again. The only downside was being so swamped that I only had about 2 minutes to spend with people. I’m telling you, me and JK Rowling, it’s like we’re the same person.
Just in case you think I’m getting all slick at this autograph business, I’ll leave you with this reassurance of my goofiness: at one point at the launch party Neil and I sat with a dapper gentleman, our lawyer Paul, who asked us both for signatures—our wills. Talk about signing your life away.
Okay St. John’s, you’re next on the list my old friend. I’m coming home.